First turbines go up at off-grid mine after 850kms journey from port


Two months after all of the parts arrived at the remote Western Australia Jundee gold mine, the crane to install them has caught up and the first turbine is being erected.

Renewables developer Zenith Energy says the Goldwind crane has arrived on-site and is now installing the first 165/6.0 megawatt (MW) wind turbine at the site.

The 86 metre-long blades were trucked in from Geraldton Port, via an 850km route that required fences to be taken down and an upgrade to the Wiluna town bypass. 

The 24 MW wind farm complements a 16.9 MW solar farm using 5B solar farm blocks that began generating power last week. 

The microgrid for the remote Northern Goldfields site is backed up by a 12 MW / 13.4 MWh battery, for which commissioning has started, to provide 56 per cent of the site’s power needs. The remainder will be looked after by the existing gas power station. 

Combined, the wind and solar farms are expected to cut the mine’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than half.

The renewables project is underpinned by a power purchase agreement (PPA) between Zenith Energy and mine owner Northern Star Resources, which the miner says will help it “achieve and exceed” its target of a 20 per cent reduction in the carbon intensity of its business by 2025 from a 2020 baseline. A target which includes scope 1, 2 and 3 emissions.

Zenith ticks off Kathleen Valley microgrid

Zenith Energy is also in charge of the Kathleen Valley lithium project in the Western Australia Goldfields area. 

The renewables developer reached commercial operations for the 16MW solar, 17MW/19 MWh battery and 30 MW wind farm last week, a milestone it says marks the finish line for Australia’s largest islanded hybrid power station.

Mine owner Liontown Resources says powering construction and commissioning of the Kathleen mine with renewables might be a first for an Australian mining project, as others tend to ramp up their clean energy generators once production starts. 

Liontown says the system is already powering the on-site accommodation and process plant, and will eventually also power the underground lithium mine, and it expects to beat its initial target of meeting 60 per cent of its supply needs for renewables. 

Some 5MW of diesel standby and 27MW of gas generation were brought online earlier this year, but these will often be switched off and will operate only when the renewable resources are unavailable.

Rachel Williamson is a science and business journalist, who focuses on climate change-related health and environmental issues.

Get up to 3 quotes from pre-vetted solar (and battery) installers.